Hannah Newberry (Chair) interviews Kirsty Day at 4KBW.
1. Can you briefly outline your day-to-day role, and if this varies, generally what you would expect from a working week?
There’s no such thing as an average week; it varies greatly depending on which cases are in court and which cases are on the horizon.
Most of the time, I will be in court every day and doing something different each day be it applications, FHDRAs, DRAs or final hearings. Some weeks, I will be in trial all week, during which I cross-examine witnesses, present legal arguments and make closing speeches.
Other weeks, I may have more days out of court working on paperwork such as advice, attendance notes, orders or drafting skeleton arguments.
2. At what point did you consider the Bar in your career (i.e. was this during early studies, during University, work experience etc?)
I decided at a very early stage that I wanted to be a Barrister. I was around 14 years old and about to choose my options for GCSE.
3. Was there anything about joining the Bar that made you feel reluctant or any concerns you had as a young lawyer, such as about the commitment levels or hours of work?
I began Pupillage when I had just turned 23 years old. I was worried that my age would mean that I was naïve and no one would take me seriously. I was also terrified about coming to the Bar when I was from a working-class, state educated, non-Oxbridge background. I was concerned that I wouldn’t fit in.
I had also heard many horror stories about the demanding work life and the sacrifices people had made from cancelled holidays to having no social life or personal relationships. This particularly worried me as I have been a carer for my Mother from an early age.
Whilst the workload has not been without its challenges, I have learnt over the years to manage my practise and have more command over my time in order to have a work-life balance. I’m still getting there but I have been able to get married, have friends and, so far, I have not had to cancel any holidays!
I have also found that my background has been a strength at the Bar as it has helped me to connect with clients and solicitors. I have found the Bar to be an open, welcoming and supportive place.
4. How would you describe a ‘perfect solicitor’ in respect of providing instructions and briefs?
Any solicitor who sends a brief in advance will always be my favourite, even if it’s only a few days ahead of the hearing. I find it helps focus your mind when reading through the bundle.
It’s always helpful when a solicitor includes not only instructions in relation to the legal aspect of a case but also the personal perspective and what the client’s concerns are. This way, you get to know the case and the client in advance of meeting them.
5. What would you say to a junior lawyer who wanted advice on how to stand out after completing their studies and searching for a pupillage?
You need something to stand out on the CV. Being a paralegal is a good start but try and obtain a legal position in a more unusual setting. My first role was as a coroner’s inquest officer. It was very similar to a paralegal / admin role but it allowed me to gain practical experience in a court setting and always engaged people in pupillage interviews.
6. Do you have any exceptionally good memories of successes or cases in your career that you’d like to share? (Appropriately redacted of course)!
One case that always sticks in my mind was representing a Mother who had suffered years of domestic abuse. At the start of the process, she had very low confidence and self-esteem. The fact finding was very difficult for her but when all of the findings were made in her favour, she felt that she had been given her freedom back. It was a feeling like no other and I felt that I had made a tangible difference in her life.
7. Is there anything you have learnt during the course of your profession, that you wish someone had taught you sooner?
There’s never a problem so big that it can’t be solved and it’s never too late to fix things.
8. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of your profession?
The unpredictability of the diary.
4KBW Chambers are a set of 52 members offering advocacy and advisory services at all levels of seniority. 4KBW offer expertise in a range of practise areas including Crime, Family, Personal Injury, Employment, Housing and Immigration in London, to include remote work.
Kirsty can be contacted or instructed via their clerk, Jason at email@example.com.